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Ridiculous By Design: Where Design’s Craziest Inventor Gets His Ideas

A new documentary tries to find the muse behind the man who invented Ear Binoculars and the Strap-On Nose Stylus.

Ridiculous By Design: Where Design’s Craziest Inventor Gets His Ideas

Dominic Wilcox is known for his mad ideas. Over the last half-decade or so, he has created a succession of improbable designs, including GPS Wingtips with directions written on the sole, a pair of enormous ear binoculars, and a strap-on nose stylus for your iPhone. Wilcox has so many ideas for crazy inventions, he’s published a book full of them. But where the hell does he get them all?

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In “The Reinvention of Normal,” a mini-documentary by director Liam Saint-Pierre, Wilcox gives a behind-the-scenes look at his home life and his workshop, and gives a bit of insight into what makes his off-the-wall brain tick.

Although he might seem like a man with no shortage of inspiration, in the mini-doc, Wilcox characterizes himself as exactly the opposite: He says he’s so desperate for inspiration, he’ll pursue any idea, no matter how mad. These ideas can be anything. In the documentary, he shows off a pair of toothbrush maracas, headphones that reverse the sounds coming in from his right ear and his left ear (“If I wore this more regularly than I do, would my brain fix it?” he wonders aloud), a teacup cooling fan, and my personal favorite: an empty soccer ball you fill with fruit and yogurt, then kick around to make a smoothie.

All of these ideas are inherently silly and surreal. Other designers might reject them even at the concept stage, but Wilcox ultimately sees chasing off-the-wall designs through a philosophical lens. “I’ve always had this feeling that time’s running out,” he says. “We only get a certain amount of time on the Earth, and you’ve got to contribute something.” What Wilcox feels like he contributes is the ridiculous, and he thinks that’s a noble pursuit. “Let’s do the ridiculous, and who knows, by doing it, something else might come of it.”

You can watch “The Reinvention of Normal” on Vimeo here.

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